A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Don't Think Twice is a thought-provoking, sometimes melancholy, but often very funny ensemble film about an improv troupe and its members. Each is caught at a crossroads, from the death of a parent to career stagnation and identity crisis -- issues that might prove too intense (or simply unrelatable) for younger teens and tweens. Scenes show characters confronting each other about their disappointments and fears; there's arguing, but it doesn't get too intense. There's also plenty of salty language (including "s--t" and "f--k"), as well as drinking (sometimes to clear excess) and drug use (mainly weed). Sex is implied, though not shown; other scenes include innuendo and a naked butt.
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What's the story?
In NEVER THINK TWICE, the Commune -- an improv troupe in New York City -- comprises longtime friends Miles (Mike Birbiglia), Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Lindsay (Tami Saghar), Bill (Chris Gethard), and Allison (Kate Micucci). They follow three basic tenets: "Say yes"; "It's all about the group"; and "Don't think." These are the foundations of good improv -- and perhaps, too, of lasting friendship. But there's a fourth tenet underlying things: Watch your envy. When two of the group members are called in to audition for a TV sketch comedy show and one of them is accepted, the entire group is thrown off balance, wondering what will happen to each of them individually and to The Commune as a whole. Most importantly, what will happen to their friendship? (And in the case of one couple, their relationship.)
Is it any good?
Written and directed by Birbiglia, who also stars, this dramedy doesn't go for easy laughs -- or for obvious tears; instead, it presents humanity in all its confusing glory. What happens when the people we love become more successful than us? What happens when we don't want success? And what happens when love runs its course? It's challenging to distil the magic of an art form, especially one as ephemeral as improv. It's just as hard to capture the nuance in envy. But Don't Think Twice does so, in both cases, with obvious love, honesty, and empathy.
Sometimes the movie feels almost like an embarrassment of riches -- there are many storylines to follow, and some feel disappointingly truncated -- but for the most part, it's clearly informed by a keen knowledge of comedy and how hard it is to survive it -- and thrive from it -- in a world so full of disappointment. Don't think twice about seeing this: Say yes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Don't Think Twice is saying about the price that fame -- or failure -- exacts. Does that make it any less attractive?
The film depicts men and women in their twenties and thirties who are struggling with their careers. Do you think that's realistic? Is it relatable?
What keeps The Commune together: Is it loyalty? Professional courtesy? Pure love for what they do? What drives them apart?
- In theaters: July 22, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 6, 2016
- Cast: Keegan Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Gethard
- Director: Mike Birbiglia
- Studio: The Film Arcade
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some drug use
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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